Shared Heritage

History and Personal Stories of Czech Settlers.


Dream of freedom

...They followed a dream in search of a better life and their own land...


Many Czech emigrated in the second half of the 19th century to North America. The main reasons were the increasingly difficult conditions and competition the small farmers were facing. It became more and more difficult for smaller farms to continue and there was not enough land to give the next generations a good start.


At the same time, the young United States was advertising its need for people to help build the railroads and settle the new prairie territories. It was a hard choice, leaving behind all they knew and cared for. But many did not see a better alternative. It was not an emigration to escape persecution or for religious freedom. It was in search of a dream of better conditions and enough land to farm and pass on to one's heirs.


Many of the emigrants from rural Southeastern Bohemia ended up in the Midwest states. They played their part in helping to settle these at that time largely unoccupied and wild parts of America. 


Today, many little and big towns still cherish the heritage of those Czech settlers, as can be seen in the many “Czech Heritage Festivals” and in particular at the famous 3-day Czech Festival in Wilber, Nebraska. But also in daily life many things reflect on this heritage.


The following pages will tell some of those settler stories, starting in the Czech lands, through the travel across Europe, embarking for the voyage across the ocean to the search of land in their new home land.


Our focus is on those emigrants finally settling in the Midwest States. This is not about large historic events written down in all history books but about individual people and their experiences. Some of it should sound familiar, it could have easily concerned your ancestors.




Unless mentioned differently, all pictures are © collection Rozmberk Society, Friends of the Rozmberk Society, or provided under © by individual partners. In some instances, copyright is public domain or could not be established or obtained within reasonable effort.

4) Picture courtesy Ulster American Folkpark



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